Not too long ago, running a background check on someone was a rare occurrence. It was reserved for high-ranking officials, celebrities, and people who were applying for a significant position or a sensitive job, and even then, the process was burdensome, expensive and time-consuming. Today, however, background checks are ubiquitous. They are conducted across industries, from healthcare to finance, to education and retail. They are no longer considered an extra precaution but a standard operating procedure, and for several compelling reasons.
Background checks help prevent fraud
One of the most significant reasons why background checks are essential today is that they help prevent fraud. Fraudsters have become more sophisticated and brazen in their attempts to deceive people, and businesses must protect themselves from these ruthless criminals. Running a background check can reveal if an individual has a history of fraud, embezzlement, or other finance-related crimes.
For instance, the insurance industry is one that benefits significantly from background checks due to the volume of fraudulent claims they receive every year. Someone who has a record of filing false claims is likely to do so again, and running a background check helps identify these individuals. Other industries, such as finance, are also susceptible to fraud, especially since they handle large sums of money. By conducting a background check, finance companies can ensure that they are hiring honest individuals who do not have a history of money laundering or other financial crimes.
Background checks protect public safety
Another critical reason why background checks are essential today is that they protect public safety. Extensive screening can reveal if an individual has a history of violence, drug abuse, or other criminal activities, which could pose a risk to other people's safety. Background checks are especially crucial for jobs that require close contact with the public, such as healthcare, law enforcement, and education sectors.
In the healthcare sector, for instance, a nurse or doctor who has a history of malpractice or drug abuse poses a severe threat to the patients' health and safety. Running a background check can reveal if an individual has had their license suspended, is on probation, or has been convicted of a crime that could affect their ability to care for patients. Similarly, many schools require background checks for teachers and other staff to prevent individuals with criminal records or predatory behaviors from working with children.
Background checks help protect businesses
Besides protecting public safety, background checks also protect businesses from negligent hiring lawsuits. If an employer hires someone who injures another employee or customer, the employer may be liable for the damage caused. However, if the employer had conducted a background check on the employee before hiring him or her, and that check did not reveal any violent tendencies, the employer may not be held responsible. In addition to reducing potential liability, background checks can also help protect a company's reputation. If an employee commits a crime, the company's image and brand could be significantly damaged.
How do background checks work?
So how do background checks actually work, and what do they look for? A background check typically involves a review of an individual's criminal record, education, work history, credit history, and references. The depth of the check usually depends on the nature of the job or position. Some checks may only involve a review of the applicant's criminal history, while others may include interviews with family, friends, or former colleagues.
Most background check companies use a combination of public records, commercial databases, and online searches to gather information. The information gathered is then verified to ensure accuracy and completeness. Once completed, a report is generated and given to the employer or organization requesting the check. The report can include information about the individual's criminal history, driving record, credit history, employment history, and education history, among other things.
Some tips for those undergoing a background check
If you are someone who is undergoing a background check, there are some things you should keep in mind. Firstly, be honest about your employment history, education, and any criminal history. Trying to deceive an employer about your past can be a red flag, and you could be disqualified from the position. Secondly, be transparent about any issues you may have had, such as an arrest or conviction. If an employer discovers this information but sees that you were upfront and honest about it, they may be more likely to overlook it.
In conclusion, background checks are a critical tool in today's society for preventing fraud, protecting public safety, and safeguarding businesses from potential liability. With the increased sophistication of fraudsters and the threat of workplace violence, conducting thorough background checks has become a necessity. They not only provide an added layer of security, but they also help businesses vet potential employees and make informed hiring decisions. Ultimately, background checks benefit everyone, from employers to employees and the public at large.